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Download Festival - Friday

Expensive, swelteringly hot, and an organisational nightmare. But brilliant!

The full lineup for the festival can be found here, along with various other bits and bobs. But I'm going to give you a brief rundown review of the bits that really stick out in my memory. We'd saved a bit of money on tickets by crashing in a friend's summer house style thing, on a nearby canal. We had a twenty minute drive to and from the site, not including the time taken to find a space in the gargantuan carparks and walk up to the gates, but the ability to shower every morning and have a functioning toiled (most of the time - more on that later) were worth it! Saved about £40 as well.


The first band we saw were playing when we came in - Wicked Wisdom, on the main stage. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great start. It was an attempt at rap-metal, with a woman trying to rhyme over a generically thundering metal band. It prompted the question "Just who is she sleeping with?". But that was actually answered with a brief glimpse of Will Smith on the side of the stage!

We wandered round the site for a while, looking at where everything was, and checking out what there was to see. The Snickers bowl had some pretty impressive BMXing going on, so we stayed to watch that for a while. The heat was sweltering, and cold drinks were £2 a half litre... so we made sure to stock up on cold water before the queues grew huge.

We watched quite a few other bands, but by and large didn't like them much. It was a pretty duff start. But then we chanced across Fishbone playing the Snickers Stage, and they were a breath of fresh air. All the other stages were thundering toneless noise at us, but Fishbone were having a reggae/ska/rock jamming session. The guitarist had a huge afro, and the trombone player a lucha mask. What more can you ask for? They even worked in an impromptu cover of Back In Black by AC/DC, before crashing back into the reggae groove. I've never walked away from a show with a bigger grin on my face.

Things got pretty busy after Fishbone, but we made sure to be at the main stage for the Deftones. I'm a passing fan - not hugely into them, but I did want to check out their live show. Aside from anything else, my favourite song of theirs is Passenger, which features Maynard James Keenan of Tool. Tool were on next, so Maynard would be backstage ready to perform... surely they couldn't pass up this chance! Sure enough, halfway into the set, Chino Moreno announces a 'special guest' who's going to come onstage to join them! And it's... you guessed it...

Max fucking Cavalera, from Soulfly.

I'll admit losing interest in the Deftones set, but then I usually lose interest in their CDs too. They've got quite a unique style, but it's quite repetative. Not a lot of variation.

So then. Tool.

They took to the stage quite late, just as the sun was setting in the sky behind the stage. Maynard was typically monosyllabic, but looked quite cheerful in his cowboy hat! They opened with Rosetta Stoned, and played a selection of tracks from 10,000 Days, Lateralus and Aenima - as well as the older Sober. Particular highlights were the new single Vicarious, a large actual jet aircraft rumbling down at low levels from behind the stage at the climax of Schism (The site was on a runway approach route - usually you could scarcely hear the planes over the music though, and it was VERY dramatic!) and the thundering rumble at the beginning and end of Lateralus.

I'd been waiting a long time to see Tool live, and though no band is ever at their best on a festival stage (Large open air venues are notoriously difficult to get good sound quality on) they did not disappoint!



(Photo by Andrew Butler)
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